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The Vowels
Confused memories ??
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2013/02/16
1:07pm
HardDifficult
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When I was in the second grade, (about 50 years ago), I was taught that the vowels were:

“a,e,i,o,u and sometimes y and w”

However speaking with an elementary school teacher, she laughed and said the letter ‘w’ was never a vowel. Am I rememberng this incorrectly,or has this changed or ????

2013/02/16
2:01pm
Dick
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I learned the same thing 60 years ago but I never really understood because it was never explained to me until my wife became a language therapist and I remembered to ask her about this. (no more that 10 years ago)

There are rarely used words that are taken from other languages that might fit an explanation, but if you are talking about common everyday words used in English, “w” is not a vowel by itself. It is a vowel when used in some diphthongs like draw, cow or few. In these words you couldn’t get that vowel sound unless you put the “w” on there so in those cases it is a vowel.

2013/02/16
3:29pm
Glenn
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Check out this earlier thread.
aeiou and sometimes y and w

2013/02/16
6:57pm
tromboniator
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2013/02/17
2:22am
Robert
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Dick said …. draw, cow or few. In these words you couldn’t get that vowel sound unless you put the “w” on there so in those cases it is a vowel.

But that is also true with drab, cot, fed 

2013/02/17
3:58am
Glenn
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I completely agree with Robert on this. I think that there are a few letters that uniquely shade adjacent vowels, and that we would never consider vowels in themselves. Both L and R are good examples:

Pat
Pall
Par
Palm

Cat
Call
Car
Calm

Bat
Ball
Bar
Balm

R and L are vocalic (vowels) in several languages, including English. In some languages, it is “official” in the orthography ( Czech: prst “finger”; zblbl “I made a mistake”) In American English we often pronounce them as vocalic in unstressed final position: bottle; butter.

In my opinion, that vowel shading test for vowelhood springs up to explain the inclusion of W in the axiom, but it doesn’t hold Wtr.

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